Headline photo

Headline photo
Rockcliffe and Kippford from South Glen Brae: Ed Iglehart [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Introductory text

Kippford and Rockcliffe are on the East Stewartry Coast, an unspoilt National Scenic Area with two other NSAs in close proximity. It is in Dumfries & Galloway, South West Scotland, a region known for it's wonderful scenery, biodiversity, turbulent history, smugglers and black and white 'belted' cattle known as Galloway Belties. This stretch of coastline has many names. Known locally as the Colvend Coast or the 'Secret Coast' (due to the peace and tranquility) it is often referred to as the 'Scottish Riviera' due to it being the holiday resort of choice for Victorian millionaires and having a Gulf Stream influenced microclimate: evidenced by palm trees in some gardens. Castle Douglas, the food town is a short drive away and Kirkcudbright, the Artists Town is over the next headland.

This a scenic and unique part of the world and we started the blog to share the experience of living in this wonderful place. We hope that it will be of interest to others who live here and give those planning to visit the area a taste of all it has to offer.

The blog has a correspondent in both Kippford and Rockcliffe village, you can also follow their Twitter feeds on the right of the page. If you would like to get involved we look forward to hearing from you.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Looking forward to Spring Fling 2013 - our final round up of last years event.

Not long now until Spring Fling our local open studios event - 25th to 27th May 2013

We never get the chance to visit all the artists during the open studios event so last year we sent out our roving reporter Lynn Watt who happily accepted the challenge and opportunity for a great day out . Thank you for sharing your day Lynn.

"One of the many charms of Spring Fling is tootling around pretty countryside lanes and coming across all sorts of lovely venues & varying styles.  Within a couple of miles of the Carsethorne coast we came across:

Ailsa Black
Wee red boat
Wee Red Boat
Along at Kirkbean Village Hall, with teas on offer, we found a huge selection of original paintings, varying sizes of prints, and cards. Ailsa’s distinctive style makes use of a strong but limited palette with powerful pops of colour, often phone- or letter-box red (quite literally!) beautifully offset by blue seas & skies. Taking inspiration from Scottish fishing-village life, albeit one where a seal and seabird confer – or a sheepdog & bird head out on the ‘Randan’  – Ailsa uses repeat motifs  with beautiful design and gentle humour  to fabulous effect.  Wonderful stuff!  
Ailsa Black's Art at Kirkbean Village Hall
Val Macadam
starry kippford night      wee daisies
Starry Kippford Night and Wee Daisies
White geese transforming into white sheets on a washing line, the black & white markings of a cow called Daisy merging with daisies in the field! Val’s eye for soft colours, pattern and quirky humour work brilliantly with her skilled detailing.  And never more so than in her delightful village- & town-scapes, capturing local scenes in infinite detail or much-loved homes and gardens for personal commissions. We can see where Val gets much of her inspiration -  her lovely cottage, which she turns into a gallery for the Fling, has fabulous views of the Solway, is surrounded by fields and her gorgeous cats, who often feature in her  ‘Wee prints’ and cards, were posing to order!  
Sadly Val is not opening her studio this May but you can view her work at www.valmacart.com  www.facebook.com/valmacadamart
Val Macadam's Studio Entrance
Lettie Blackett

Lettie’s studio is a relaxed, easy-going space; ancient, rough stone walls with glimpses of garden beyond, decorated with fabulous flowers. And paintings & mixed media!  We loved the Indian paintings which capture the tremendous colour and speed of Indian street life, but with a magnetic stillness around the central figures. Lettie hopes to return to India soon to gather more inspiration – already looking forward to seeing the results next year."

You can find out all about this years Spring Fling at http://spring-fling.co.uk/
With 93 visual artists, makers and designers participating in this great event.

Submitted by Lynn Watt busy Editor and manager of  luxury BirchLea Holiday Lodge  Kippford.
Art work shown  with the kind permission of Ailsa and Val. All art work and photos are copywrited.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Threave Castle Home of Archibald the Grim and Ospreys.

I have always enjoyed the short walk down to Threave Castle . As a child, I always ended up running there with great  excitement at the opportunity of ringing the custodians bell to call the ferryman before my sister.
I just loved the little boat ride over the river Dee.
 In those days it was a rowing boat now its a much quicker journey with an outboard motor so sea sickness tablets are not necessary.
Crossing the River Dee to Threave Island and Castle
Now its more of a wander down the path and an opportunity to learn more about the fascinating history of the area and spot wildlife. I spotted two deer on this walk.
This trip was prompted by hearing the news that two Osprey a male and female had returned to the nest near the castle so I waited in the hide in anticipation There are five hides along the river and marshes and there is often a RSPB volunteer on hand who can give you lots of information. This time I was unlucky but have had reports from our guests who have seen them. I have been trying to find out if there are any eggs yet but have not heard.
If you are interested in Ospreys you can keep up to date by following the National Trusts Blog for Threave Estate.
The hard working NTS Staff have really made a difference on the Estate managing 1500 acres, laying paths, planting trees, encouraging wildlife and  building hides. Earlier this year work was carried out to ensure the Osprey platform was secure and safe.
 Threave Estate was designated as Scotland's first Bat Reserve in 2010 with seven species recorded. There are two Bat trails  around Threave Gardens and Kelton Mains. Bat detectors are available to hire from Threave Gardens visitor centre
To learn more about Threave Estate and Gardens

Crossing The River Dee
A thousand years ago Threave Island was said to be the home of the ancient rulers of Galloway. The tall, forbidding tower that now dominates the island was built for Sir Archibald Douglas in 1369 and is all that remains.
Sir Archibald had recently become Lord of Galloway, but is better known as Archibald ‘the Grim’. His Father had been King Robert the Bruce's friend during the Wars of Independence against England. Archibald continued that fight. The English gave him the name The Grim due to his frightening appearance in battle.
  In 1400 he died at Threave and was by then the 3rd Earl of Black Douglas, the most powerful magnate in Southern Scotland.

When James II tried to overthrow the over-mighty Black Douglases about half a century later, after a two-month-long siege at Threave, the island stronghold reverted to the Crown.
Threave Tower
I am always delighted to see Dumfries and Galloway in the National Press and receive recognition for being such a wonderful area and here is an article on a walk around the Estate published in The Guardian.
Threave Island was also recently listed in UK'S Tiny Islands Top Ten Hidden Gems 
The Island is managed by Historic Scotland for details of opening times please visit their website

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